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Cellphones Technology

Lamenting the Demise of Hangups 215

An anonymous reader writes "Ian Bogost writes about a cultural tradition we've mostly lost as smartphones have become ubiquitous: hanging up. While we still use the terminology (in the same way we say 'rewind' when skipping backward on our DVR), the physical act of hanging up a telephone when we're done using it no longer occurs. And we don't get that satisfying crash and clatter when hanging up on somebody to make a point. 'In the context of such gravity, the hangup had a clear and forceful meaning. It offered a way of ending a conversation prematurely, sternly, aggressively. Without saying anything, the hangup said something: we're done, go away. ... Today a true hangup — one you really meant to perform out of anger or frustration or exhaustion — is only temporary and one-sided even when it is successfully executed. Even during a heated exchange, your interlocutor will first assume something went wrong in the network, and you could easily pretend such a thing was true later if you wanted. Calls aren't ever really under our control anymore, they "drop" intransitively.' It's an interesting point about the minor cultural changes that go along with evolving technology."
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Lamenting the Demise of Hangups

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  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @02:18AM (#43195355)

    Make an aggressive hang-up app.

    • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @02:52AM (#43195471)

      And of course, dmomo's law rings true once more:
      "The Internet already did your idea": []

    • by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @02:59AM (#43195483)

      I don't remember aggressive hang-ups being audibly distrubing. Maybe it's because you had hammered the switch down before the crashing noise.

      The real problem is that mobile phone calls disconnect all the time, and for a number of reasons. So terminating a call prematurely isn't always a definitive, "fuck you, you've been hung up on."

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just send a followup text message with the goatse image attached and the quote "this is what your mama ate last night!" That will get the message across, while also permanently psychologically scarring the individual and preventing them for ever again displaying affection to their mother--you know, what you really want in the moment of anger during a hangup.

      • The real problem is that mobile phone calls disconnect all the time, and for a number of reasons.

        What, when you press the disconnect button? Are there any other reasons?

      • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @12:52PM (#43197431)

        The real problem is that mobile phone calls disconnect all the time, and for a number of reasons. So terminating a call prematurely isn't always a definitive, "fuck you, you've been hung up on."

        This problem is easy to solve:simply say "fuck you" before disconnecting.

        • Which, incidentally, is exactly what is done to achieve the desired dramatic effect in the (painfully amateuristic) video accompanying 'The Slammer'.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Sunday March 17, 2013 @04:05AM (#43195611) Homepage Journal

      Hanging up on someone was as rude as telling them to go fuck themselves. Anyone who misses hanging up on someone has something wrong with them.

      We've traded hanging up on someone with the even ruder talking on the phone when you're conversing with someone face to face. When the phone rang, the polite thing to do was answer it, say you had company and offer to call back. Now assholes just ignore you and gab on their phone. Didn't you kids have parents that taught you how to act like a human being?

      Don't get me started on musical ring tones, sometimes I feel like walking into next cube over and smashing their goddamned cell phone. Whoever came up with the idea should be tied to a chair and made to listen to the first fifteen notes of the song they hate worst, over and over.

      • So you prefer the Apple way where half a train carriage fumbles for a pocket whenever one goes off?

        What pisses me off is the Morse code style SMS notification. It's always at top volume, goes on for ages and is the preserve of those having long conversations with the other person. If you've got that much to babble about fucking call them instead of "BIP-BIP-BIP BEEP-BEEP BIP-BIP-BIP" (twice) every minute. You're probably going to see whoever you're texting obsessively in about an hour anyway.

        • Why do you assume it's only one person? The heavy texters I know are usually conversing with multiple people at the same time.

      • I have done it and have it done to me, however a sudden hangup is more about timing as opposed violent response. As the other party never hears that crash of the phone hitting the receiver by that point the phone call was already over.

        Ring tones yea that I agree with being able to modify ring tones so a room full of (popular brand name of phone) everybody doesn't reach into their pockets, but most of them are just plain wrong.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Interesting. When my phone rings when I'm talking to someone I switch it to vibrate and apologize for not having done so before.

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          Well, I see by your UID you're not that young and were used to landlines and phone manners. I don't know why things changed with cell phones.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      You know, people could just grow a pair and yell, "You know what? FUCKKKKK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU" into the phone before 'hanging up'. I'm pretty sure the message would be conveyed.

      Also: I'm a fan of the "fuck this shitbrain, I'm putting it on mute and setting it on my desk while I do something important," dis. Then they have to hang up: I care just enough to show them that I don't value their time, and will denigrate them by making them hang up on me.

  • Lame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 17, 2013 @02:19AM (#43195359)

    This is really just an updated version of Seinfeld's cordless phone bit

    • That's what I thought at first, but if you read to the end of the summary, you'll find out that they're actually talking about how calls drop unexpectedly all the time any way so, the person on the other end is never sure if you hung up on them or if the call just dropped.

      • I had a call drop... once? twice maybe? in the last 10 years. Must be an American thing.

        • Agreed; unless the battery gives out - and then the phone will warn me earlier, so I can warn the other person - I never have dropped calls, even when talking inside a car on the highway.

  • With all the craaps out there, how can there not be an app that plays a phone-slamming sound over the connection and then disconnects the call?

    • It wasn't the hanging up that was the annoying bit, it was the beep-beep-pause-beep-beep of an engaged number, when attempting to call back to resume the argument, but the handset was off the cradle following an aggressive slam down...
      • by drcagn ( 715012 )

        Yeah, we've still got that. You know, when you call back, and it rings once and then goes straight to voicemail.

  • ...this is a crappy Soulskill post.

    Even for a slow Saturday night.

    Couldn't you find another Apple linkbait troll piece to post instead? You know, "Rumor Says New OS X Release Locked to Processor." You know, the lame crap that gets posted here every day which is still better than this...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 17, 2013 @02:25AM (#43195383)

    Preface disconnecting with the following: "This is me hanging up on you".

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @02:30AM (#43195401) Homepage Journal

    the full duplex, circuit-switched, not-laggy realtime conversations I used to have on a landline phone. I could be talking, and the other party could be talking at the same time, and both of us could hear each other and understand everything.

    The young uns here will probably think I'm making this up. I'm not; back in the day, Candace Bergen could drop a pin and I could hear it over the phone.

    • I'm missing [...] the full duplex, circuit-switched, not-laggy realtime conversations I used to have on a landline phone.

      That depended on the distance involved. I grew up in an era when most phones had a rotary dial and a real bell that rang (now I settle for an mp3 recording of a 1960s post-office phone on my Android device), and it was quite common to get a noticeable lag on international calls. Not as badly as with some VOIP calls, but there nonetheless.

      But if your call connected (which it always did except when lines became congested at Christmas-time), the line was yours until you ended the call.

      Even back in the 198

      • by hb253 ( 764272 )
        Was the lag due to the call going over satellite? I'm pretty sure all international calls now go through ocean cables.
    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      No kidding! A person could talk for hours and hours with "unlimited long distance" and hear every waver in a person's breath with a crappy $5 telephone.

      Currently, I'll get randomly dropped on my cell at least once a conversation while at home. This only started occurring a week ago, when I got back from a long trip: I'm right at the periphery of two different carrier towers, and while I had been able to pick up the good signal of an off-brand carrier, I'm only getting a (much weaker) AT&T signal. Fail.

      • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )
        The service providers are not solely to blame. Smartphone manufacturers have consistently been using worse and worse antennas over the last few years.
        • If call quality was an important aspect of cell phones, Nokia would still rule the world. Apparently, angry birds is more important, so you get what most other people pay for.

      • Your phone calls over land lines stopped being pure analog in the 80s when everyone switched to fibre back hauls. They've essentially been VoIP (not in the strictest sense, but in the 'converted to digital from analog' sense) since then.

        Your conference calls will have bigger problems with conference/speaker phones than anything else, those are the ones that really destroy a conversation.

        I haven't used WebEx in a while, but you can certainly tail the difference between everyone using a handset or headset in

    • by hb253 ( 764272 )
      There's a whole generation now that thinks cell phone voice quality is the way it's supposed to be. In the mean time, every cell call I make is an exercise in frustration because I know how good it *could* be.
    • by PNutts ( 199112 )

      Candace Bergen could drop a pie and I could hear it over the phone.


  • by drcagn ( 715012 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @02:37AM (#43195423) Homepage

    If you want to hang up on someone and deliver the same experience, just shout "fuck you!" and tap the "end call" button. You get the same satisfaction and they'll get the message. Is that so hard?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    yes, and a generation of kids will grow up clicking on a stylized picture of a floppy disk to save things, without having ever used a floppy disk.

    This is news how?

  • So this here is why we have copyright, to protect the inane misguided ramblings of those who have nothing constructive to say but are desperate for people to listen to them. So we call it "art" and give them a monopoly on their inanity for several generations.

    • by dwye ( 1127395 )

      Ah, but they flip side is that no one else will ever be allowed to say these same inane ramblings and claim it as their own. Only Ian Bogost will ever be seen as THAT stupid (at least on that subject).

  • If only hangups really were on the decline. Seems to me people have more and more of them these days. The day when nobody has any hangups at all will be a great one for the human race.
  • Yeah, when my process gets a SIGKILL it doens't know what happened (or even THAT it happened), but when it gets a SIGHUP it knows someone or some thing hung up on it or at least pretended to.

  • by fredgiblet ( 1063752 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:04AM (#43195495)
    I work in a call center where we still have physical phones (though we only use headsets), I remember hearing about one supervisor call where the sup eventually advised the customer that there was nothing more to discuss and he was going to end the call, he picked up the receiver, de-activated the headset then hung up the receiver, just for the sound.
  • by virb67 ( 1771270 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:25AM (#43195525)
    The best hangup is when, mid-conversation, you whip your cell phone off a wall, smashing it into a million pieces. Didn't have those in the old hangup days, did you?
  • Dare I say that one could "improve" on the so-called hangup, and make it arbitrarily more obnoxious if so desired. Hell, in place of the end call button, present a menu of your favored obnoxious call termination options.

    Better act quick though; this brilliant innovation is just the thing patents are made for!

  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:42AM (#43195555)

    ...about as much as I miss putting a new roll in the fax machine. i.e. not at all.
    But then again I bet if you look hard enough you'll find an old fart who thinks that VHS tapes are superior to Bluray.

  • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:48AM (#43195565)

    Before we had the phone, there was no way to hangup at all! Let's lament the lack of smacking someone on the face and stalking off!

    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      Actually, that is fairly lamentable. You can't do that at all anymore without serious repercussions. Meanwhile, cowards who would never even look someone in the eye get away with screwing them over every day through various back room dealings and lies.

      • by dwye ( 1127395 )

        Wrong. Slap a man's face, and his seconds would contact yours and arrange pistols for two and coffee for one; in the Old West, he would just draw on you, or, if Wyatt Earp, pull your revolver from your holster and pistol-whip you into unconsciousness. As for cowards and back room deals, how did the Templars lose everything, or what happened when Thomas Cromwell broke up the monasteries for King Henry VIII?

        • Contrary to what you think, duels and gunfights were far less common than you think.

          You didn't openly shoot people or challenge them to duals since there was a 50/50 chance your ass would be dead. In about 3 duels you're almost certainly going to be dead (yes, I know one of are particular presidents was a dueling fanatic, but there are exceptions to every rule that do not make the normal).

          Gunfights weren't common in the old west. Duels weren't common either. It had to escalate considerable further in mos

          • by dwye ( 1127395 )

            Contrary to what you think, duels and gunfights were far less common than you think.

            And slapping a man a far worse insult than you think (unless the slapper was female, of course -- in that case, it would just be embarrassing or foreplay). Also, most duels ended with both men exchanging fruitless shots, then deciding that honor was satisfied. Slapping another man, however, was far more serious than A making ambiguous comments about another man (B) (probably that he was entirely too close to his daughter) then refusing to publicly apologize for the third hand comments that got back to B u

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
    Anyone I'd hang up on like that would already just ring straight through to voice mail. Not that I actually associate with anyone I'd hang up on like that. I suppose in a hypothetical situation where I did, I could return their call specifically to hang up on them. But then I'd have to tell them that. "Hey! I called you back, just to hang up on your! (click!)" Maybe the poster isn't putting enough artistry into his hanging up! Or maybe he's just hanging out with the wrong people.
  • Swear at the person, then hit "End".

    • by jamesh ( 87723 )

      Swear at the person, then hit "End".

      the two aren't mutually exclusive. Swearing at the person before throwing the handset down just added to the satisfaction.

    • by radja ( 58949 )

      dont swear.. get a referee whistle. works especially well against call centers, as they cannot take off their headphones fast enough.

      • Whilst tempting, that is mostly cruel to the poor who have no alternative but to work in a call centre. However it may be justified for SOME call centre callers.
  • I keep hearing people talk about "dropped calls" - is that when the landline develops a fault and the audio keeps dropping out? I don't know if they still do that, because I haven't had a landline phone for about ten years - and their inherent unreliability is one of the reasons I got rid of it.

    • by dwye ( 1127395 )

      Where do you come from, 1960s or 70s France, or Eastern Europe?

      • No, a fairly remote part of Scotland. I got rid of the landline because frankly it was crap and I wouldn't want to have to rely on it in an emergency. I still have the copper pair for ADSL, but that's crap too - and in fact failed while I was composing this post so the router has switched to 3G.

        It's raining and a bit windy, so the line has probably failed somewhere.

  • Jerry Seinfeld summed this up years ago in one of his standup routines [].
  • Has the author never seen a cordless phone? You know, what practically everyone who still uses a land line has? You can't hang that up either. In fact, the only thing keeping the aggressive hang up going was the flip hone.
    • by 517714 ( 762276 )
      You keep the person on the line until you reach the old style phone in the other room, pick up its receiver, hang up the cordless phone and slam down the receiver of the old style phone. You do realize that the value of a land line is reliability, and that a cordless phone is the weak link in the chain? A phone that requires no power other than what it draws from the phone company is needed for real emergencies, and most landline users have at least one in their homes.
  • I needn't slam a phone to tell the other person on the phone that I'm done with him.

    We recently invented a technology called "talking". It allows to "tell" them instead of using possibly ambiguous actions that may be misinterpreted. "Go to hell, you old bastard" is hard to misinterpret.

  • There are tons of words that are in use that derive from something else - yet people still cope.

    It is neither novel nor clever to point these out. And even worse to make a Slashdot article about a stupid observation. Hang-up means "to end a phone call" - the term is derived from the action of older phones, where hanging the receiver on the phone ended the call.

    I'm going to bed to do some that's word has these origins:
    "The long-standing speculation is that this Latin word is altered (probably by influence of

    • No, not quite. That's not what "hang up" means.

      When I was a boy, you young whippersnapper, we had a candlestick phone (look it up: []). When the phone rang our distinctive ring pattern, you picked up the candlestick with your right hand, then picked the receiver up with your left and held it to your ear. When the call was complete, you hung the receiver on its hook. Not placed, hung. That, sonny boy, is where the term "hang up" comes from.

      Since the te

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @08:02AM (#43196157)

    When I am in a conversation and the other person suddenly hangs up, I will know that the person calling was the cause or that it was a technical issue. Ask anybody and they will tell you that they can tell the difference.

    This is the case when I am on the phone and the other person calls with a cellphone. This happens when the other person is on a landline.

    What you do not have with a cellphone that you have with a landline is, as caller the satisfaction of slamming the horn down, missing the phone in anger and needing to slam it down several more times.

    If you missed, the callee could hear the callers frustration and giggle, However if he did not miss, you would not hear all the noise and you still were sure that the person hung up on you.

    So in the past you suddenly did not hear the person anymore. Now you suddenly do not hear the person anymore. There is no difference, except maybe in the theatrical sense.

    And yes, we still use the same words for things. That is language. I am sure there are many words we use for things that we do not even know what the original meaning was. That is why ethymology [] exists.

    My guess is that this is about trying to be nostalgic, while there is nothing to be nostalgic about.

  • by Ly4 ( 2353328 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @08:49AM (#43196325)

    From Catch-22:

    "It takes brains not to make money," Colonel Cargill wrote in one of the homiletic memoranda he regularly prepared for circulation over General Peckem's signature. "Any fool can make money these days and most of them do. But what about people with talent and brains? Name, for example, one poet who makes money."

    "T. S. Eliot," ex-P. F. C. Wintergreen said in his mail-sorting cubicle at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters and slammed down the telephone without identifying himself.


    General Peckem roused himself after a moment with an unctuous and benignant smile. His expression was shrewd and sophisticated. His eyes gleamed maliciously. "Have someone get me General Dreedle," he requested Colonel Cargill. "Don't let him know who's calling." Colonel Cargill handed him the phone.

    "T. S. Eliot," General Peckem said, and hung up.

    Today, someone would ponder why Wintergreen would slam down the phone, since that would break the screen.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      Today, someone would ponder why Wintergreen would slam down the phone, since that would break the screen.

      That book made me wonder about a lot of things that went on in it.

  • We have the "End Call" button. We just need an app that adds "Hung up" and "Hang up hard" buttons, that insert the sound of a legacy phone receiver hitting the holder. The app needs to randomize these sounds, otherwise a "Hang up silencer" app will come out. Well, it probably will, anyway. And we'll probably end up with a market in "hang up sounds", like spitting, laughing, mooing, etc.

  • by c ( 8461 )

    What we really need is an app that generates a *plonk* sound, hangs up, and dumps the caller into a block list.

  • by rssrss ( 686344 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @09:24AM (#43196443)

    It took me years of psychotherapy to get rid of my hangups. Why would I be sad about their demise?

  • ..but becomes an expensive habit.
  • First of all, If you are simply hanging up on someone, then you are just doing it wrong....

    Secondly, disconnects became relatively common as people started buying cordless phones (as opposed to cell phones) as the battery would die unexpectedly. Cordless phones became common in the 90's. This, in my opinion, is what changed how people viewed disconnects (i.e. the need to call back), not today's cell phone usage. In other words, this behaviour change started much sooner than you think.

    Finally, who just ha

  • for example, in german the word hangup "aufhängen" was displaces by "auflegen" (to lay sth. down), like you did with the old telecom telephones with keys on one big block and a receiver to hold at your ear. Of course, you could try to implement this by an app, which hangs up when you lay down the phone ... but face it, you did not hang up or lay down your DECT mobile, as well.

  • My Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone hang up when I slam them down on the table.

    The Galaxy also mutes when I cover the screen with my hand.

    I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.

  • It shouldn't be hard to make an app for that. Digitize the crash of a bakelite handset on a rotary phone, and make an app that plays that clip before disconnecting.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"